When we invest, we're generally looking for stocks that outperform the market average. And the truth is, you can make significant gains if you buy good quality businesses at the right price. For example, the Agilent Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:A) share price is up 80% in the last 5 years, clearly besting the market return of around 35% (ignoring dividends).
There is no denying that markets are sometimes efficient, but prices do not always reflect underlying business performance. One imperfect but simple way to consider how the market perception of a company has shifted is to compare the change in the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price movement.
Over half a decade, Agilent Technologies managed to grow its earnings per share at 32% a year. The EPS growth is more impressive than the yearly share price gain of 13% over the same period. So one could conclude that the broader market has become more cautious towards the stock.
The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).
This free interactive report on Agilent Technologies's earnings, revenue and cash flow is a great place to start, if you want to investigate the stock further.
What About Dividends?
As well as measuring the share price return, investors should also consider the total shareholder return (TSR). The TSR is a return calculation that accounts for the value of cash dividends (assuming that any dividend received was reinvested) and the calculated value of any discounted capital raisings and spin-offs. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. In the case of Agilent Technologies, it has a TSR of 89% for the last 5 years. That exceeds its share price return that we previously mentioned. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.
A Different Perspective
Investors in Agilent Technologies had a tough year, with a total loss of 2.4% (including dividends) , against a market gain of about 1.4%. However, keep in mind that even the best stocks will sometimes underperform the market over a twelve month period. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 14%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. While it is well worth considering the different impacts that market conditions can have on the share price, there are other factors that are even more important. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Agilent Technologies that you should be aware of.
Of course Agilent Technologies may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of growth stocks.
Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.
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